Music Reviews

Mac DeMarco 2

(Captured Tracks) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

After graduating high school in 2008, DeMarco started the short lived Makeout Videotape, releasing a few cassette only albums of treble and reverb fueled, minimalist rock. DeMarco took a similar but more conceptual route with his solo debut, Rock and Roll Night Club. Under the Makeout Videotape moniker, DeMarco's sound was similar to Calgary's Women, very jagged and angular sounding rock. Rock and Roll Night Club takes the fuzzy, lo-fi stylings of Guided by Voices, paired with vocals of a slightly eerier and disheveled Tom Waits. The albums has the feel of a structured, whimsical concept album, complete with fake radio promos between tracks and a matching persona for DeMarco, as the reincarnation of Buffalo Bill from Silence of The Lambs. The album's artwork has DeMarco staring blankly into a mirror as he applies smeared lipstick. In 2, DeMarco ditches the whimsy of Rock and Rock Night Club for a more centered and sincere lo-fi pop offering.

2 plays as a cross between late 70s glam rock (think T. Rex or Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie) mixed with a darker version of Kurt Vile. The album as a whole is pretty straight forward leaning, flowing effortlessly from song to song. DeMarco clearly has a knack for song-writing. He is able to beautifully pen out his tales of childhood, love and cigarette addiction to a sonic tapestry. Opening track, Cooking Up Something Good, has DeMarco explaining his mundane childhood of chain-smoking over a guitar riff, that has the feel of a playful, palm-muted, improvised bar rock jam. The song's off-chord driven chorus really helps to blend the melancholy lyrics with the rest of the upbeat tempo.

Ode to Viceroy is one of the gloomy love songs off the album. The track is set to a slow and steady backbeat, layered under reverb laden guitar picking, intersecting between the lead and rhythm guitarist. As with most downtrodden love songs, it deals with the one that got away. DeMarco's love affair is with Canada's version of bargain basement cigarettes, his beloved Viceroys. The chorus will ring through your head a few times, until you catch yourself humming, "Ahhh honey, I'll smoke you till I'm dying." The track ends with a sound clip of DeMarco's of taking a drag from his cigarette then coughing up a lung, reminding all of us that love can be crude.

After the love affair with ye old Viceroys wears off, the stand out single, My Kind of Woman, truly showcases DeMarco's talents as skilled singer and songwriter. As the title suggests, this one is not about smoking for once. The track opens similarly to Ode to Viceroy, but has more of a complex moodiness to it. The instrumentation follows the same musical path of Ode to Viceroy, but DeMarco's voice takes on a more biter sharpness in My Kind of Women; it's personal in this one.

For only being 22, DeMarco is starting to create a name for himself. Compared to Rock and Roll Night Club, 2 is a more polished and refined take on his brand of minimalist rock, structured around his keen songwriting. Judging by the short interval between his last two albums, a third will be on its way soon. Lets just hope he can kick his beloved Viceroys sometime soon, to keep that smooth baritone of his in working order.